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Statin drugs may increase risk of developing cataracts

A recent study shed light on the possible link between statins and cataracts. 

The study found that people taking statin medications who have certain genetic variants may be at an increased risk of developing cataracts and having cataract surgery. Study findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Evidence had previously been found in prior studies that demonstrated statins do increase the risk of cataracts. This study explored whether particular genes that copy the activity of statins may in turn raise the risk of cataract development. 

Researchers utilized a large database in the UK and analyzed genetic data for over 420,000 people. Researchers were looking for five common previously identified genetic variants that are known to lower the level of the good cholesterol, LDL. After identifying these variants, the researchers then calculated genetic scores based on each variant's influence on LDL cholesterol. People who were carriers of a genetic mutation in the HMGCR gene were then identified. This mutation in the HMGCR gene was equal to the person taking a statin medication.

What the researchers determined was that those people with the HMGCR genetic mutation had a higher risk of developing cataracts and having cataract surgery. In fact, the genetic mutation carriers were more than four-and-a-half times likely to develop cataracts and more than five times likely to require cataract surgery than people who did not have the genetic mutation.




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